OBJECTIVES: This study sought to assess relations of laws prohibiting over-the-counter syringe sales (anti-OTC laws) to population prevalence of injection drug users and HIV prevalence or incidence among 96 U.S. metropolitan areas. METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis was used. RESULTS: Metropolitan areas with anti-OTC laws had a higher mean HIV prevalence (13.8% versus 6.7%) than other metropolitan areas (pseudo-p<.001). In 83 metropolitan areas with HIV prevalence of less than 20%, anti-OTC laws were associated with HIV incidence rates of 1% or greater (pseudo-p<.001). Population proportions of injection drug users did not vary by presence of anti-OTC laws. CONCLUSIONS: Anti-OTC laws are not associated with lower population proportions of injection drug users. Laws restricting syringe access are associated with HIV transmission and should be repealed.
Laws prohibiting over-the-counter syringe sales to injection drug users: Relations to population density, HIV prevalence, and HIV incidence